Follow CEHD’s lead

With its open textbook library and emphasis on mobile learning, CEHD is setting an example for the rest of the University.

The University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development has saved students $145,000 on textbooks over three semesters through its iPad initiative and 140-volume open textbook library, the Minnesota Daily reported earlier this month.

CEHD started its library in 2012 after giving all incoming freshmen iPads two years before. The college is a leader in open and mobile learning, and CEHD information technology director Dave Ernst said educators in more than 178 countries have accessed the library.

For such a young program, these results are encouraging. The editorial board has long advocated for open textbook use and derided the exorbitant cost of conventional texts.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the University as a whole will follow CEHD’s lead very soon. Some roadblocks are logistical or monetary — CEHD is a relatively small college and much more agile than the institution as a whole — and some are less tangible. Ernst told the Daily that faculty members choose course materials carefully, and some are skeptical about shifting to an open textbook.

But a smaller, personal change is easier than an institutional one. We hope faculty will look at CEHD’s success and give open textbooks another look. Furthermore, the University’s other small colleges should begin experimenting with open textbook libraries of their own.